As a modern discipline, geography finds its precedents not in the halls of a university but in the stately parlors of early 19th century Europe. During this period, maps were highly prized commodities, state secrets of the highest order, and their possession was deeply bound to notions of conquest and geopolitical power.
The title of author and critic Daniel Mendelsohns latest book of essays, How Beautiful It Is and How Easily It Can Be Broken, is taken from a line of stage direction for The Glass Menageriewhen you look at a piece of delicately spun glass, you think of two things: how beautiful it is and how easily it can be broken.
But what exactly is a profile? Moustafa Bayoumi writes at the outset of How Does It Feel to be a Problem? Its a sketch in charcoal, the simplified contours of a face, a silhouette in black and white, a textbook description of a personality. By definition a profile draws an incomplete picture.
In their introduction to On Poetry and Politics, the first major English translation of writer Jean Paulhans essays, Jennifer Bajorek and Eric Trudel note that Anglophone readers who know of Paulhan generally associate him with two things: his nearly forty-year stewardship of the Nouvelle Revue Françaisevanguard of French literary culture and early home to Gide, France and Valéry; and the period lentre-deux-guerres, that historical interlude T.S. Eliot once described as twenty years largely wasted.